Four of our MFL faculty have worked as lesson study pairs [with me as the 3rd man in the room] to plan together on 2 enquiry questions that reflect their concerns re the changing curriculum and G.C.S.E. demands.
Bronagh [Spanish subject leader] and Marion [French/EAL coordinator] worked together on their enquiry-Which methodology is most successful in retention and recalling verb conjugations? Helen H [MFL faculty leader] and Helen F planned and observed each other teach their enquiry question – Is the inclusion of literary based activities in the new KS3 curriculum a motivating tool compared to normal grammar/vocab based lessons?
These were brief introductions [2 lessons each] to more detailed follow up throughout summer as the faculty plans its next schemes of learning. The theme of learning retention ran through our last blog [Shuffle your Sums http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=1739 ] our current science lesson study and my ‘Quality of Teaching’ session for our NPQSL visitors last Friday.
Bronagh and Marion, without getting into the traditional v progressive teaching argument, planned their first lessons based on quite traditional pedagogical approaches before trying a more student led interactive approach [the one Ofsted deny they preferred!] They checked the impact of their teaching with short quizzes, before, during and after before leaving a gap to see if long term memories had captured the taught knowledge. Bronagh feeding back on Marion’s first lesson felt that 2 of the students had begun to improve their previous knowledge-conjugating etre.
|What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know?||A is now fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today.||B is fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today.||C showed the potential to be able to form the verb etre and was previously really confident in his abilities and keen to share his answers. When he got distracted he lost his confidence and struggled to complete the other tasks as he would not get as good a mark as previous.|
Marion used traditional style teacher led activities.
|1. Starter: Odd one out. Students will practice thinking skills to revise some previous vocabulary and introduce the focus of the lesson.|
|2. Etre vs. To be: Students will need to match the French to the English using their knowledge of pronouns.|
|3. Nationalities: Students will need to translate the sentences which will check how much they have recalled. This will also test their thinking skills and practice dictionary work as this is not something they have previously learnt.|
|4. Writing task: Students will need to recall all information from the lesson to write each sentence. Students will only have access to the nationalities- no other support!|
If you are reading this blog and haven’t seen the lesson study approach before-the teacher predicts how their teaching strategies will impact on student learning [3 chosen students] and the 2 observing colleagues [and sometimes the IRIS camera] check to see what actually happens. The discussion afterwards digs deeply into the reasons for any differences in predictions and reality with a big focus on learning [of the students] and the development of the teacher [and observer/coach] An example of one of the strategies, predictions and actual observed response is here;
|1. Nationalities: Students will need to translate the sentences which will check how much they have recalled. This will also test their thinking skills and practice dictionary work as this is not something they have previously learnt.||All students will be able to translate all the sentences with no issues as reading is a strength for many students.||A was able to translate all sentences independently and only struggled with her spelling of the nationalities.||B also had no problem translating all the sentences.||C struggled to translate all the sentences as he had got confused in the previous exercise but he did attempt to answer them using his knowledge of pronouns.|
All of our lesson study shared examples can be found here;
Bronagh and Marion then discussed how the learning had developed and made their first reflections before planning their second lessons.
|What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know?||A is now fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today.||B is fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today.||C showed the potential to be able to form the verb etre and was previously really confident in his abilities and keen to share his answers. When he got distracted he lost his confidence and struggled to complete the other tasks as he would not get as good of a mark as previous.|
|Initial Thoughts||From the results of this study it appears that the teacher led lesson in which students learning grammar in a rote fashion has proved to be a success. All students were fully engaged in the lesson and made progress and although it was rote learning MY still proved this could be done in a fun and engaging manner especially with the song! We will now complete a more student led lesson where they will need to learn a different grammar point independently and compare the results to see which method is best.|
Bronagh adopted a similar approach for her first lesson-it was just the language which changed!
They then changed tactics for the second round of lessons to introduce a carousel of activities which saw the students moving around the room to different bases. Prior knowledge was tested and then re-tested.
|1. Starter: Recall of the near future tensePupils will be shown the 6 phrases in Spanish and will need to recall the meaning in English.|
|2. Carousel Activity 1: FlashcardsPupils will have 8 minutes to sit independently using the flashcards to practice and memorise the endings.|
|3. Carousel Activity 2: LaptopsPupils will get the opportunity to practice the endings on an interactive exercise.|
|4. Carousel Activity 3: Listening ExercisePupils will be able to listen to a recording of the endings to revise.|
|Plenary: Final check-Pupils will be shown the English phrases and will need to be able to recall the Spanish translations in the correct order without any notes.|
|What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know?||All 3 students were able to conjugate the verb in the future tense by the end of the lesson. They appeared to react well to the continual testing at the end of each activity particularly A.|
|Initial Thoughts||It will be interesting to assess how well the students retain what they have learnt at a later date. I think highlighting the importance of grammar early on will have a positive effect in the long run. Although the testing was repetitive, because the activities changed each time, all of the students seemed to enjoy the lesson. No one complained of it being boring.|
Of course Marion is correct in her feedback-the key aspect to learning is can it be retained at a later date either through quizzes, assessments or highlighting usage when appropriate in future learning tasks. You can see Bronagh’s response to my question; -have you evidence that the learning from the lessons has stuck in their long term memory-how do you know/have you tested again?
“I tested them the week after the 1st lesson on the near future tense and none of them could recall all of the vocabulary. Out of the three students we were observing only A could recall one ending. However when they were reminded of them in lesson that week and again as a starter the following week they were are able to recall them fully on the 3rd attempt during your second observation.
For the future tense which we taught on the second lesson they were all able to recall it fully the following week but I haven’t tested them on that since. Even though this was the one that appeared to stick best to begin with I have noticed in their written work they always seem to use the first one they learnt. So even though it took them to be reminded 3 times it may have stuck more?!
I will test them both again in a few weeks to see if they can still remember and use it!”
“I have tested several times. Some have it firmly anchored now, others are improving their score each time I test them. I have realised that they need to have learnt the personal pronouns thoroughly before the verb conjugation and I will make sure I do this next year early on. I will be giving them the 3 main verbs to revise again over the holidays using whatever method they choose. I will report back in the summer.”
A couple of our blogs since Xmas have used student surveys to help us consider their needs and opinions to support our planning. Interestingly the recent paper from the Teaching School research and development network which began by offering their key messages about what makes great pedagogy [14 points] had the first 5 related to student voice. Each lesson study should provide an opportunity for either the 3 students observed or usually the whole class to respond.
Talk with pupils about their learning, listen carefully, and involve them
- The importance of taking account of pupil voice comes through consistently. It means that teachers go beyond thinking about what they are going to teach and how, to consulting with students about their experiences as learners.
- Taking account of pupil voice appears to enable teachers to change or adapt their pedagogic approach and create a virtuous cycle of improvement.
- Taking account of pupil voice appears to help develop positive relationships. The engagement and enjoyment of pupils appears to be a positive consequence of this.
- 4Talking with pupils about their learning appears to enable teachers to make links between teaching approaches and their impact on pupil progress and attainment.
- Involving pupils in the planning and teaching of their lessons can increase their enjoyment and engagement in learning.
Helen and Helen!
I’ll go backwards then and begin with the survey that Helen H used after her second lesson. This could have been carried out before to see how the students viewed their learning up to that point or as Helen has done, to find out what they felt about the experience so she can use their views to help her planning. The only problem, as Helen mentioned to me, is that 7 set 1 are very positive about their learning and life in general and may tell you what they think you want them to say!
Feedback from Year 7 NTEN Lesson Quiz
7 set 1 French with Helen Hallmark
Please answer the following questions honestly
28 students replied anonymously to this survey.
Think about the French poetry lesson last week. How does it compare to your usual French lessons?
3.6% = void
In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you learnt more or less French words than in usual French lessons?
|14.3%||1||=||I learnt less words|
|28.6%||2||=||I learnt the same amount of words|
|53.6%||3||=||I learnt more words|
3.6% = void
In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you made more or less progress than in usual French lessons?
|7.1%||1||=||I made less progress|
|50%||2||=||I made the same amount of progress|
|39.3%||3||=||I made more progress|
3.6% = void
Would you like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories?
|14.3%||1||=||I wouldn’t like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories|
|86%||2||=||I would like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories|
What is the best way to learn vocabulary for you?
I allowed multiple answers to this question and additional answers.
|57.1%||1||=||Through the teacher, listening, repeating and writing it down|
|21.4%||2||=||Looking it up in a dictionary|
|39.3%||3||=||Seeing and using it in a poem or story|
3.6% said through activities and games
3.6% said by writing notes and revising at home on own
3.6% said visually.
The first 2 lessons from both Helens were traditional [ish] grammar lessons and traditional topics others may remember from their school days.
Helen H used her prior data to see how the students would make initial short term progression.
|Success Criteria||Pupil A||Pupil B||Pupil C|
|1. Students should be able to correctly give the date and month of their birthday and understand the birthday dates of others.2. They should be able to recite the days of the week in French and understand which days is which when not in a chronological order.||A-SEN need =AR. A has speech and language difficulties.On the first mini test, A scored 48/48 and achieved a Bronze level on his writing piece.||B- has no additional needs. I find her to be very good orally but rushes her written work. B is entitled to FSM.On the first mini test, B scored 45/48 and achieved a Bronze level on her writing piece.||C- has no additional needs or pupil premium indicators.On the first mini test, C scored 47/48 and achieved a Silver level on her writing piece.|
This was Helen’ F’s first attempt at lesson study and it was interesting for her as an NQT to work with Helen who has been teaching for nearly 30 years! As an ITT students she probably stuck rigidly to university style lesson plans and the prediction style LS plan aimed at thinking hard about learning can be tricky, especially if singing is involved!
|SongPupils will listen to the alphabet song from YouTube all the way through first then for the second time they will sing along.||A this will be too lively and energetic for A . He won’t join in singing and won’t dance or connect with the song in any wayB will be quite self-conscious at first about joining in and will probably need a bit of encouragement to start singing it.
C will sing and dance along with the song and will be enthusiastic and lively when singing along – he will probably request it again
|You were correct. A was not very enthusiastic and didn’t really engage with the song. He did half-heartedly join in and mouth some of the letters.||B joined in with singing along to the letters but didn’t maintain the momentum and gave up after a while.||C joined in but didn’t look up at the song on the whiteboard he preferred to say his letters by looking at the sheet you gave them.|
Helen then considered how the learning had developed and wondered how the introduction of literary elements, as required by the new curriculum, would impact on both the learning and her teaching.
|What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know?||A was able to spell his name with support and encouragement from the teacher. Without that, as demonstrated in the plenary, he was not able to complete this alone and became frustrated||B was able to spell her name and was able to recognise the letter sounds during the plenary. She attempted all tasks and got most of her answers correct in the plenary.||C can confidently spell his name. He did this aloud for the class and demonstrated his knowledge well in the plenary.|
|Initial Thoughts||A didn’t seem enthusiastic about this lesson. Perhaps he will be more engaged with the poetry lesson.||B made good progress in the lesson and showed good Growth Mind Set by not giving up throughout and for asking for support. I think she will continue to show the same enthusiasm in the poetry lesson and will also ask for support where necessary.||C made good progress in this lesson as he does in most Spanish lessons. It will be interesting to see how he copes with group work situations and with the different aspect of studying Spanish literature|
There was a lot of interaction and movement this time and quite challenging aspects of group work followed by the poetry writing. Helen F felt afterwards;
|What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know?||A really struggled with this lesson after learning the initial vocabulary. He did try to contribute to his group but didn’t offer much. He did find the task of writing his own poem difficult despite support from the teacher.||B was her usual enthusiastic self throughout the lesson and tried her best at every activity. She did require support for writing her own poem. She managed to fit words into her acrostic poem.||C was able to recall the vocabulary well and contributed well to the group word, often becoming the group leader. He did overthink the acrostic poem task and did require support with this.|
|Initial Thoughts||A’s responses to the questionnaire were mostly negative towards the poetry lesson. A does have literacy difficulties so the lesson didn’t appeal to his strengths which I believe to be the reason for this reaction. A will need more support for lessons like this in the future.||I think she enjoyed this lesson. On her questionnaire B said she enjoyed the lesson but learnt the same amount of words and made the same amount of progress.||C stated on his questionnaire that he learnt more words but wouldn’t like to do another literature based lesson again.|
There was a mixed response from the students on the assessment of their own learning and this was useful in helping Helen consider how she might include poetry again. In an old style lesson observation it is doubtful whether or not this important developmental aspect of feedback and reflection would ever have happened. Equally important for Helen’s development was the opportunity now to observe her faculty leader introduce French poetry [written by a Belgian] into her lesson. The students in their above survey were quite positive about the experience but Helen H wasn’t quite sure before the lesson as to how her chosen 3 would react to her tactics.
|1. Students are given envelopes with a cut up poem and English translations. They have 7 minutes to put in the translated sentences next to the original French. They are to work in pairs and can use their dictionaries.||A is more able than his partner, but slower in dexterity. I think they will complete some of the translations successfully but I don’t think this pair will finish the task in the time allowed. B will ask lots of questions and demand someone to one help but I don’t think she and her partner will complete the task if they get a bit of teacher guidance. I think Cand will complete this task successfully without any teacher input.|
|2. Once they have had a chance to translate the poem, students will be asked to reassemble it into what they think is the correct order.||I think A and partner might struggle to reassemble it and might lose some of their original translations in the process. I think B will take over from partner in re-ordering the poem but she can be a little careless and I think she might lose some of their original translations in the process. I think C and partner will be able to re-arrange the poem fairly successfully without losing too many translations in the process.|
It was quite a different poem!
|What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know?||A worked better in this lesson than I had predicted. He and his partner achieved Gold in the assessed part of the lesson. He also coped well with the acrostic poem and was able to put adjectives which agreed with the noun.||B enjoyed this lesson. She told me so. She was keen to do all aspects of the work and didn’t totally dominate her quieter partner. It seems she wasn’t as confident with the bi-lingual dictionary as partner. B and partner also achieved Gold in the assessed part of the lesson||C coped well with the translation work and dictionary work and she and her partner achieved Gold for the assessed part of the lesson. They were less confident when asked to put the poem into its original order, however. They probably would have benefited some guidance on thinking –skills. (Strategies such as reading the English translations, looking at the overall structure and pattern of the poem to see where the refrain went.) C also struggled more with the acrostic poem than she needed to. I went over to give her guidance but she was insistent on doing the acrostic poem ‘properly’ i.e. not intersecting words anywhere on the template but only using the letters of Ma Trousse as the start of her own words. This made the poem much more complex than it needed to be.|
Helen H’s reflection focused on how she might have supported the ‘thinking’ skills which some found tough and you can see her experienced mind ticking over and preparing her teaching strategies for ‘next time.’ To be the best teacher that we can be needs us to develop a mind-set of critical self-evaluation and support for each other with peer feedback-lesson study is a perfect vehicle for this approach to be encouraged in a non-judgmental fashion.
Helen informed me that her follow-up to check learning retention has begun;
“I actually really enjoyed putting a poem into my scheme of learning and this lesson study has encouraged me to think of doing more literature based lessons. Some of the students asked for more on the bottom of the surveys they completed.
I have written some follow on questions to accompany this lessons to see if the class have retained the vocab in their long term memory. See attached file [below]. I will get them to answer the questions in class and will feed back to you the responses.”
I was pleased to see the TDT, who support NTEN lesson study becoming involved in a new CPD expert group aiming to share the most effective methods of professional development for teachers [and I hope all staff]. The Teaching School’s research and development network, mentioned earlier in the blog re great pedagogy, have also shared their findings re CPD based on the views of some forward thinking schools. I would argue that lesson study and our other collaborative CPD are at different stages in developing each and every one of these key messages. We aren’t there yet but I think that we have our ‘end in mind!’
Key messages about great professional development
Think about the pupils’ needs and the impact you want to have
- Great professional development starts ‘with the end in mind’ and is specific about the relationship between pupils’ learning needs and teachers’ beliefs, behaviours and practices.
- Starting with the end in mind also provides a clear structure for the professional development and its impact on teacher practices and outcomes for pupils.
- Effective professional development requires teachers to be forensically clear about their starting points in order to be able to evaluate impact – but to also be prepared for unexpected outcomes.
- Great professional development is rooted in the classroom and starts with an issue that is relevant for teachers and their pupils.
- Taking serious account of pupil voice helps teachers to genuinely understand the impact of new interventions / practices as a result of their professional learning.
- Enabling teachers to focus on the difference they want to make for their pupils is highly motivating and effective professional development.
Help colleagues to think seriously and differently about their practice
- Effective professional development requires teachers to challenge their existing practice and make connections between how they teach and how pupils learn.
- Great professional development requires teachers to truly look at their own practice and pre-conceptions about what they think students understand and what they actually do understand.
- The ‘conditions for challenge’ need to be in place e.g. trust, honesty and time for deep conversations.
Provide opportunities for colleagues to engage in deep collaborative learning
- Mentoring and coaching can be powerful when personalised, developmental and undertaken over time.
- Providing sufficient time for deep, high quality talk between teachers is beneficial for professional relationships and leads to deep learning.
- Working, planning, sharing and collaborating with colleagues is stimulating and enables teachers to engage in critical thinking about lessons and learning.
Ensure access to knowledge and skills from inside and outside
- Use internal and external expertise to maintain drive and momentum and provide support at different stages, as well as build new expertise and leadership.
- Co-create knowledge by bringing together knowledge from practice and knowledge from research.
Use collaborative enquiry to stimulate professional learning – but not as a quick fix
- Incorporate collaborative enquiry into professional development as a long term approach. It is not a ‘quick fix’ – it requires persistence.
Facilitate the practicalities to encourage a learning culture
- Make sure that senior leaders provide necessary conditions for effective professional development to take place e.g. Time, resources, to facilitate an open classroom culture.
I included 3 NQT views on lesson study and their CPD a previous blog and this time conclude with Helen Forest’s views-just check how many of the ‘key messages’ she mentions without realising it!
Q1 Why did you want to become involved in lesson study-I didn’t twist arms [on this occasion!]-what did you hope to get out of it?
I saw it as a good opportunity to work with someone else in my department and to gain more strategies about MFL teaching. Helen is an experienced teacher so I was grateful for the opportunity to observe two of her lessons and in turn improve my own teaching. We chose to do a lesson based on the new curriculum changes which are almost upon us. It gave us the opportunity to see what worked and what didn’t. It helped us to plan how to make Spanish/French poetry accessible for Year 7 pupils, who themselves have a limited vocabulary.
Q2 Has it fulfilled your expectations? What have been the main benefits?
The main benefits have been able to plan a lesson together, to share ideas and to learn from each other. It also means that when the new curriculum changes do come in both myself and Helen will be able to bring something to our department’s “ideas table” of how to go about it. It makes the, what at first seemed a very daunting task, easier to approach and plan for.
Q3 What are the drawbacks/concerns/pitfalls-any suggestions for changing the process/advice to others?
I don’t think there were any drawbacks. It was a great opportunity to work with a colleague and in fact therefore I thought it reduced to typical observation workload and stress of planning it all and coming up with the ideas. Two heads are definitely better than one. Because it is a lesson study and the highlighted pupils’ reactions are being watched, it made me feel like I wasn’t being observed, therefore reducing the standard observation anxiety.
Q4 It has only been a short study so far and you can continue in summer-where will you take it next? Explain your thinking and reasoning behind your decision and then tell me your ideas on how will you measure the impact on student learning?
The next place to go would be exploring different aspects of literature (e.g. short stories) and how to fit them into our topic areas. The poems that we picked were quite short and therefore could be studied in one lesson. It would be interesting to see, over a longer period of time, whether studying more literature improved the GCSE Reading paper scores for pupils, or just their foreign language reading skills in general. Vocabulary tests and their scores would be interesting to see if they can recall more words after a literature lesson than after a ‘normal’ language lesson.
Q5 It is very early days BUT CPD is only of any use if it directly has a measurable impact on learning-have you been able to use what you have developed already to make a measureable impact on student learning [a slight marginal gain perhaps!] with 1] your lesson study, 2] Your CPD so far
As a result of lesson observations the department is now using the dots scheme. Something which after using it for several months, I would like to adapt slightly to make it more pupil-friendly and to make it a more structured starter. The NQT CPD has been fantastic and what we have asked for has been covered. The peer-assessment for lower ability pupil’s session was especially useful. I feel that I support them much better now when giving feedback to their peers and learnt not to worry about the occasional lack of written feedback and that oral feedback is okay.
Q6 What else can we do to help your development at MCHS? I hate the statistics about teachers leaving the profession before they have taught for 5 years-be honest and tell me what have we done that works well for you, makes you feel valued, supported, developed etc. and what have you found doesn’t work or we need to re-think. You all tweet now and share your ideas [thank you!] and see ideas from all over the world-tell me some you’ve spotted that we should do to support NQTs.
I feel I have been extremely well supported within my department, by SLT and through the group of NQTs and within our regular NQT meetings. It’s the simple things like arranging for Ian or Sophie to support my Friday afternoon lessons with Year 11 when I had first started in September and they were hard work. Or when Alison stops me in the corridor to check how it is going with Year 11 and to talk about the new dot marking strategy. The NQT CPD has been useful to learn ideas and strategies from the member of staff delivering the information but also to share ideas amongst the other NQTs. The amount of time within departments during Tuesday’s meeting time has also been useful. It has helped me to become a bigger part of the department and allows us share ideas, for example the marking FOCUS meeting that we all participated in. The weekly “check-in” meetings with Mark and Bronagh have been great, just to check I’m doing the right thing or to raise any concerns or queries that I may have